F1 Visa Interview – MFA in Film Production – 221(g) Yellow Slip – U.S. Consulate in Mumbai

Raghuram Sukumar F1 Visa Interview Experiences 6 Comments

I had my visa interview on the 10th of July at the Mumbai consulate in Bandra Kurla Complex. The appointment time was at 7.45am, but that’s just really to show up as there was a long queue starting from the courtyard. I sat and waited to go inside. There was a token number line and a fingerprinting one in different areas.


I misheard the officer announcing and went to the fingerprinting line after standing on the token line for a while. That added time. Finally, I got my token no. 399 and the ongoing number was 201 or something (screwed!).

After waiting for quite a while and passing my time talking to these two cooks who were traveling to the US as chefs on a cruise liner (they were an excellent company).

And watching an Indian VO on counter 37 rejecting most of the visa applicants that came his way with a thorough grilling session, my turn came at the counter #27.

It was a sudden jump as tokens serving were in the range of 350 – 380.

I walked to the counter a way off, greeted nicely with a smile by a young American VO.

Note – my F1 Visa interview was always a bit complicated.

F1 Visa Interview Film Production (Masters Degree – MFA )

I applied for an F1 visa for an associates degree in liberal arts and sciences at a community college through credit transfer almost seven years back, after having completed two years in biomedical engineering. I got two rejects and didn’t pursue the matter further.

VO – Good morning.
Me – Hello. How are you? (with a smile. I gave him my passport and I-20)

The VO took a while and was going thru my application on his computer I believe. (strike 1)

VO – What are you going to the US for?
Me – To do my Masters in Filmmaking, that is, an MFA in Film Production.

VO – Why Florida State University?
Me – Well, its one of the best and most selective film schools in the world right now and the production costs for making my films is going to be paid by the university. There are only 24 students selected every year. Also, it has a great faculty.

VO – Did you apply to any other university?
Me – I applied to Columbia and University of California, Los Angeles.

VO – Did you get any acceptances?
Me – No. Florida State University was the only one that accepted me on the basis of my creative portfolio and then called me for an interview.

VO – Are you carrying your creative portfolio?
Me – No, but I can state verbally whatever was submitted by me.

VO – Ok
Me – Besides the SOP, I submitted a writing sample of a play and a feature film treatment.

VO – Describe the feature film.
Me – I described it to him. (Now, there was a confusion from my side. I realized this after the interview was over. I answered this in detail but I realized later on that I never did submit a feature film treatment to FSU, rather it was submitted to Columbia and UCLA. I hope this won’t be a problem. I’m dreading it)

VO – Whats the title of your feature film?
Me – Gave him the title.

VO – What are you going to do after your masters?
Me – I plan on working on this feature and promote myself after having made my showreel in India. (was stammering a bit here)

VO – Who’s going to pay for your education?
Me – My father

VO – How much does he earn?
Me – Gave him an XX amount

VO – What does he do?
Me -He’s a manager in a trading est.

VO – Whats the name of the company called?
Me – Abu Hesham Trading Est., Saudi Arabia (strike 2)

VO – It says in your form that you have relatives in the US.
Me – My uncle, my mothers brother is living there in Phoenix, Arizona. (strike 3)

All the while he was incessantly typing away while listening to me intently, sometimes stopping in between.

VO – Alright sir, your visa….(or something similar)

All this while, there is another person, standing there and watching over the VO and me during the interview.

The VO shuts the lid, discusses something, and gives me the dreaded 221(g) yellow slip. They don’t ask me for any documents.

He said that that I need to check the website and check whenever my barcode is listed.

He then returns my passport and I-20. I ask him whether my visa is rejected. He says it’s going to further processing. I was a bit irritated. So don’t even remember saying a thank you although he wished me. But I did give a short smile.

Throughout my interview, I being a bit nervous, answered all my questions confidently, was dressed formally. Whenever there was a pause between the interview, I used to stare in wonder at what the hell was this guy typing away. I hardly smile whenever I explain myself, and that was the same case here as well. The VO never asked for a single document.

I’m a Muslim; my first name starts with Mohammad, and I’ve lived in Saudi Arabia till I was 15. From there on, I’ve been studying in India, making trips to Saudi Arabia every year to meet my parents and renew my resident permit. In the past year, I have traveled there to cancel my resident permit and to the UAE for a vacation.

I guess the visa officer has every right to check my background and all looking at my history. But I hope this is not a visa rejection, and all of this happens quickly. I need to leave by the 14th of August to attend orientation. I was already allotted a room in the hostel (sheesh!).

But more importantly, this is a tremendous career boost for me. FSU is an outstanding film school from what I’ve asked around and read about and has a notorious selection process. I feel special to have gotten in, and I need that visa. Its up to God now, I guess.

Thank you Happy Schools for all the guidance. Couldn’t have been prepared without you and all the people who posted here.


  1. Mohammad, don’t be worried. With God on your side, you’ll get the VISlA. Just pray and trust God and don’t forgot to intimate us when you finally succeed, because you will.

    1. Thank you Olajide for the kind words. Indeed God will surely do what is right. I’ll let you know my situation as soon as I hear word.

  2. Dont worry my friend!!You will get the visa.Production costs for making films paid by the university?How much they pay you?Did you get any scholarships?Kindly advice about film making courses..

    1. Thank you for the kind words Krishna. Florida state film school takes about 24 people from various backgrounds in the production program. Unlike other universities where they give you a small amount and you have to find further funding for your thesis films, the faculty at FSU hears out your pitch and pay for the entire cost of making it. I don’t think it will be an exorbitant amount of money but enough to make it worth your while. It actually makes sense as you will concentrate on the output rather than worrying about where the funding will come from. I got a very small amount of scholarship from the Dean’s fund.

      Depending on what aspect of filmmaking you want to go for, there are different universities you can apply for. Studying filmmaking is an expensive and risky affair and you don’t necessarily have to study it to be a filmmaker. Universities like University of California, Los Angeles, Columbia University, Chapman University, Loyola Marymount University, New York University, Cal Arts, Savannah University are the very popular ones. Each university has their own way of teaching. Some are very theory based like Columbia and UCLA. Others like Chapman believe is more practical based. Normally most film schools in the US are based in the vicinities of New York and Los Angeles as these two places are creative hubs. Hope this info helps. If you want to ponder more, theres a nice forum – http://www.studentfilms.com which should bring you upto speed. All the best.

  3. is it a trend to give muslims a 221(g)…m goin to apply for visa within a week..!!

    1. Hello Faisal,

      It isn’t usually a trend. From what I know, depending on the name of the person, the application goes for background checks as they have a list of people on their no-fly list or something.

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